L.A's "Solution" to Affordable Housing Scarcity is a Circular Firing Squad

FILE - In this July 15, 2003 file photo, the Los Angeles skyline is obscured by a heavy layer of smog and fog. Los Angeles risks becoming a city in decline as it struggles with poverty, poor schooling, traffic jams and a crisis of leadership, a citizens' panel warned Wednesday Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jerome T. Nakagawa, File)

There’s an old Lakotah saying about daylight savings time:

Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.


Well, it looks like the white men are at it again, this time in Los Angeles.

It should be no surprise that Los Angeles is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. There are few aspects of every day life that both the state and city do not tax. The working poor and the ultra-rich are expanding while the middle class is disappearing.

In an effort to supposedly increase affordable housing, the Los Angeles City Council has approved a new developer’s fee for new developments in the city. The fee will range from $1 to $15 per square foot, depending on the affluence of the new construction area.

The fee is based on geography, with planners using the city’s 35 community plans — designated boundaries that help guide development — to calculate the charge.

For instance, the linkage fee to build a 3,000-square-foot home on a vacant lot in Bel-Air would be $45,000, while in San Pedro the fee would be $24,000 for the same size home.

In cases in which a home or building is torn down and replaced with a larger one, the added square footage is used to calculate the fee.

Several categories are exempt from the fee, including schools, hospitals and public museums. Additionally, residential additions smaller than 1,500 square feet are exempt.

Developers also don’t have to pay the fee if they include a set amount of affordable, low-income or moderate-income housing in their buildings.

My husband and I worked very hard to earn enough money to move out of our low-income neighborhood and pursue a middle class lifestyle for our children. I’m pretty sure I speak for most middle-upper class families who work extremely hard for their income that not one of us would be excited about the idea of paying millions of dollars for a Los Angeles condo that is basically plopped right next to the type of area we just busted our butts to move away from.

Mayor Eric Garcetti says the fee is necessary to raise funds that would go to help with more affordable housing.


“Today we see hope in the promise that Los Angeles can continue to grow and indeed must grow. That when we see luxury condominiums going up, that we can make sure that there is money paid in to build housing for the rest of us.”

The new development fee comes on top of a new fee levied by Governor Brown on all real estate transactions within the state. There is also another $4 billion bond scheduled for the 2018 ballot.

So let’s get this straight: L.A.’s genius solution to unaffordable housing is to make it more expensive to build new housing which will in turn make the housing itself more expensive, all in the hopes of raising money to support more affordable housing that will be more expensive than ever because of the new developer’s fee.


Welcome to life in the People’s Republic of California.


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